Compliance with legal obligations by top management or the employer is an absolute prerequisite for serious and permanently successful business - including occupational health and safety. This applies to any kind of commitment a company has made beyond legal constraints and regulations such as the German Occupational Health and Safety Act. The prerequisite for this is the identification of all these obligations and a consistent evaluation of compliance - an important topic also for managers to fulfill their responsibility!


The internationally recognized ISO 45001 standard focuses on topics and measures in the company that are relevant to safety and health at work (OHS) - and thus also for all employees. It is primarily concerned with determining legal obligations in connection with occupational safety. The goal: to take responsibility in this way, to take action, and to minimize hazards for employees. Organizations are thus enabled to close gaps in their occupational health and safety management system, and to meet their compliance responsibilities.

"Compliance with legal obligations in occupational health and safety is a key requirement of ISO 45001."

An important sub-aspect here: with a view to an integrated management system or the integration of all OHS topics into the general business processes required by ISO 45001, it is necessary to ensure comprehensive compliance anyway. This is the only way to rule out serious damage caused by failures in occupational health and safety. Determining and complying with legal obligations in occupational health and safety is a must.

What role does ISO 45001 play in regard to compliance?

The standard for occupational health and safety provides valuable guidance for assessing legal obligations. It enables organizations to close compliance gaps.

Occupational health & safety and compliance - an example from the field of communications

In an emergency situation, rescue services may need to be alerted. If the procedures for alerting are clearly defined, this can be life-saving for those involved. However, some emergency situations, e.g. the release of pollutants into the environment, do not only require a quick and coordinated alerting of rescue services. They usually also entail immediate notification of the responsible authority. This is to ensure the protection and safety of the population and the environment. If notification is required, the company must therefore know exactly which authority or other interested party must be notified and under what circumstances.

In this context, it is also important in this day and age to have a clear regulation on the exchange of information with various media. Incidents and/or emergencies are usually always of great interest to the media. In addition to local authorities, the press, television and social media quickly demand relevant information. Here, it is essential to regulate who communicates. If this is possible for every employee in an emergency situation, false impressions can be reproduced that damage the company. Conclusion: It must be reliably defined who is to communicate internally and externally, about what, when, with whom and how. The OHS standard also places a number of requirements on the content of the information and the communication processes themselves.

ISO 45001 - The new OHS standard

ISO 45001 was published in March 2018 after five years of development and will replace the British standard BS OHSAS 18001 in 2021. The new standard elevates occupational safety and health (OHS) significantly more to the status of a strategically important management issue, providing a suitable framework for its continuous improvement. The focus is on one of your company's most important interested parties: your employees.

ISO 45001:2018-06 - Management systems for safety and health at work - Requirements with guidance for use (ISO 45001:2018); Source: ISO.

Easy integration into an existing management system

The ISO standard follows the common basic structure (High Level Structure / HLS) with core texts, terms and definitions as applied in all ISO management system standards revised since 2012. This means that the topic of occupational safety and health can now, for the first time, be holistically incorporated into an existing management system, e.g. ISO 9001 or ISO 14001. This has many advantages: Above all, an integrated management system helps to avoid conflicting goals and duplications of parallel management systems, to bundle resources, and at the same time to achieve synergy effects.

The integrated management system - audited with added value

The combined, simultaneous auditing of fully integrated management systems offers numerous opportunities for companies. Cross-thematic audits allow synergies to be exploited and, at the same time, interactions but also contradictions between the different subject areas to be identified. This requires well coordinated, targeted audit planning between all parties involved.

In order to increase the benefits for our customers, we focus on their multiple qualifications when selecting and training our auditors: DQS auditors cover at least three sets of rules on average.

audits-dqs-audit wuerfel nebeneinander auf tisch

Do you have questions?

Contact us. Without obligation and free of charge.

Important notice: ISO 45001 has replaced BS OHSAS 18001

On September 30, 2021, ISO 45001 replaced the British standard that has been relevant to occupational health and safety management for more than 20 years.

Companies that have a certified quality and/or environmental management system are generally familiar with the process and the transition periods set by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF). As with the revision of the two ISO standards, a three-year transition period has been set for the changeover. It was initially scheduled to end on March 11, 2021, but was extended by six months by the IAF due to the Covid 19 crisis. Now all BS OHSAS 18001 certificates have lost their validity. The old standard has been superseded.

In principle, DQS had still carried out certifications according to the old standard last year - but only until September 30, 2020. After that date, the financial cost of certification was no longer justifiable.

Altan Dayankac

Global Program Manager and Senior Sustainability Manager of DQS Group and international expert on numerous sustainability, climate, environmental, and occupational safety topics. Altan Dayankac also contributes his expertise as an author and moderator to HSE and sustainability committees and at various professional events.


Relevant articles and events

You may also be interested in this
managementsystem-header-blog-dqs-pfeil hat exakt in die mitte der zielscheibe getroffen

Further development of an integrated management system

arbeitsschutz-header-blog-dqs-arbeitshelme haengen an spind

OHS management system according to ISO 45001

arbeitsschutz-header-blog-dqs-arbeitshelme haengen an spind

Occupational safety needs communication - Important questions and answers